Into New Orleans We Went..


Excerpt from Strapped into an American Dream

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Into New Orleans we trampled, where the tombstones sat above ground. People cannot be buried below the earth because of swamps; digging one foot down would turn up water. We hoped to survive Mardi Gras without ending up six feet over.

After stepping off the bus and into the chaos, we followed the crowd, hoping they’d pull us to where we wanted to be. We didn’t know the where, but neither did anyone we asked. Since most people walked in one direction, we followed along.

By the time the Iris parade reached our front row positioning behind a thick, twisted wire running alongside the street, ninety minutes had passed. The street quickly cleared, and the parade owned the crowd.

Krewes seemed to love the hysteria they created, and sometimes they’d reach into their buckets and heave handful after handful of necklaces overboard. A tug-of-war would ensue by the commoners until all the beads were taken.

Serious struggles arose over these cheap plastic beads, sometimes resulting in injury, but it seemed worth any possible injury at the time. There’s nothing like that moment during a Mardi Gras parade. Nothing else really matters.

The mania turned adults into children, while children only stood a chance if they were on their parents’ shoulders. Tracy admitted that she had become a victim of greed, but only once gave in to a struggle for beads against a child. She felt so terrible while reflecting on what Mardi Gras does to people and what it had done to us. However, I’d be lying if I said that we didn’t enjoy a teary-eyed chuckle from these childish reflections.


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